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Babies Driving Robots at University
Date:11/9/2007

ial needs infants in communities throughout Delaware and to gather data to analyze how they are used and what the children learn so that the research team can continue to make modifications.

Both note that Delaware, with its mix of urban, rural and suburban communities, is a model state for a clinical project such as this. "For a real world mobility device to emerge, we have to build it for exploring the real world experienced by infants and their families, and then rigorously study its performance in that world," Galloway said.

Both said the project will significantly expand understanding of young infants' learning capacity and provide a model for tracking the development of real world exploration with laboratory quality data.

They believe the training, robot design and new technology derived from the project will provide the foundation for the first generation of safe, smart vehicles for infants born with mobility impairments.

They want the UD1 product to be light enough for moms to stow in a car trunk, and robust enough for babies to use in the home, yard and playground, and maybe even the beach.

This interdisciplinary project is bringing together students and researchers from fields that have had little or no interaction: engineering, early childhood education and pediatric therapy.

"The research, educational and health care impact is hard to overestimate, given the critical nature of early development, the relatively short time to prepare special needs infants to enter mainstream education and the complete lack of power mobility early in life," Galloway said. "This project has so many positives, and is of interest to so many in the community. We are encouraging everyone interested in special needs infants to get involved - from parents to policy makers. We are thinking locally and globally at the same time."

He added, "Although there are special needs kids in every community, you have never seen a special needs c
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SOURCE University of Delaware
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